Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 August 2008 – Diversified mining and resources giant BHP Billiton – currently involved in a US$128 billion (R960 billion) plan to buy rival Rio Tinto – has been asked by South Africa’s Competition Commission to provide information to evaluate its bid.
In turn, BHP has appealed to the commission’s sister authority, the Competition Tribunal, urging it to set aside the summonses from the commission. The tribunal is set to hear an urgent application by BHP on the matter.
BHP owns two aluminium smelters in South Africa and one in neighbouring Mozambique. It has coal and manganese operations South Africa, where it has a secondary listing on the JSE.
The Competition Tribunal is expected to hear BHP’s application on Thursday and Friday morning, but it was likely the proceedings would be held in camera, as BHP had asked for confidentiality, according to an unnamed media official.
“BHP Billiton is objecting to a summons issued to an employee of BHP Billiton to provide certain information to the commission,” a statement from the Tribunal said.
“The Commission claims the information required is necessary to evaluate the BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto merger. According to BHP Billiton the information is irrelevant for the purposes of the investigation being undertaken by the Competition Commission.”
BHP media spokesmen in Johannesburg and London were unavailable for comment.